There is a distinct difference between your success and your legacy. Success can be defined as all that you can acquire while on Earth, and a legacy being all that you leave behind. But you’ll find that as you work towards a legacy, success will tend to follow.
That’s undoubtedly the case for Kiwani Tapper and the Bowtie Kids. Tapper is a twenty-six year old communications therapist who always wanted to pursue fashion. But having been raised by a Jamaican mother, let’s just say fashion design was not a typical point of discussion when talking about career goals. Like many other young adults preparing to leave the nest for the first time. Tapper started of pursing a more stable career field.
Graduating in 2010 with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida, Kiwani began work as a speech therapist. She specifically concentrated on children who had been impacted by communication diseases and disorders. But we all know, when you truly want something, rarely does that want disappear. In Kiwani’s case, her love for creating was no different.
Then three years after graduating from university, Tapper had a dream about what would come to be the Bowtie Kids. It was a rather simple dream where she saw herself making bow ties. Consider it divine intervention because that image stuck with her. She combined it with her drive to educate others and magic happened.
“I’d never written anything down, I wrote this down. This dream I had to see, I needed it to be real.”
She began building in house. Literally funding all projects and merchandise production on her own. Trial and error have become her method of grooming the business.
“I lose big and have yet to establish a system that works a hundred percent,” she says. But she’s learning as she goes, picking up hints from people (and google) along the way.”
Two years after that dream of building a business that combined fashion and awareness, Tapper saw it come to fruition. The Bowtie Kids would grow into a fashion brand dedicated to spreading information on numerous disorders that affects thousands of children around the world. She’s grown a solid clientele mostly by word of mouth. She’s even dressed the babies of celebrities such as singer, Omarion and reality star, Yandy Smith.
Each bow tie or garment is custom made, either by color or design, to generate mindfulness towards disorders like, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida. However, the list continues to grow as she customizes designs for new disorders and diseases brought to her attention. Those she might not know about.
“I learn too, so I’m continuously adding to my list of what I want to bring to the forefront, as far as awareness.”
Now providing custom clothing as well as awareness bracelets and earrings, Tapper doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. She has meticulously combined all that she loves and that is a major accomplishment in and of itself; while it took just over a year for consistent sales of her products, production and clientele are now steadily increasing.
“I’ve found a way to do all the things I love doing, while giving back to the kids that inspire me daily.”
Most of us are faced with this obstacle during the quarter life crisis. Choosing between the things you love, and determining which should be sacrificed. But if you think outside of the box, a choice doesn’t necessarily have to be made! You’ll find that tapping into your passions and finding a way to combine them almost forces you to work harder, because every part of you is working.
Tapper credits her daily motivation to the positive feedback from her kids and customers, knowing that she’s educating as she creates.
“It’s quite amazing, knowing that people are learning, and knowing that it’s because of you.”
That’s what creating is about, after all. There really is no better talent than teaching others, no matter how we decide to do it. It’s about leaving them with something greater than ourselves, something far more important than our persona. Because who we are here, will never mean anything if not for what we leave behind.